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Part II of Lunds adventure through Canada
Despite the river being over the banks, Jeff Lund fishes the Skeena River under the watch of rocky peaks. - photo by Photo by JEFF LUND
Before I was even 200 kilometers from the Skeena River, I knew fishing would be tough.

Everything draining into it was rich and roaring. The Skeena would be a torrent.

I was right, but I made myself a sandwich and waded out a couple feet to toss in the biggest fly in my box anyway. To my right was the slowly decomposing carcass of a beautifully (even in death) colored steelhead. The red went almost top to bottom along its flanks and the spots still showed despite the dark dorsal line.

To my far right, the Skeena was cutting into a high bank and every so often minor rock slides would capture my attention. I filed that sound so I could avoid the certainty of a bear attack that my mind likes to make when I am awoken from my nightly hibernation while camping.

After a solid 40 minutes of futility, I rode my bike up the big hill up from the campsite that provided a panoramic view.

I slept well, despite still not having a sleeping bag and 27 mosquito bites evenly distributed between my hands and ankles.

I had covered almost 1,600 miles in three days and still managed to fish four rivers and three lakes, but the trip took its toll.

My first break on the final leg was a gas station for a snack and a coffee. I ended up leaving with an apple juice. Such was my mind frame.

Since I had 12 hours to do what would take three, I slowed down, stopped frequently and even lingered on one of the French radio stations. It was only when I had an uncontrollable urge to buy six dozen croissants and three dozen crepes that my inner Ricky Bobby changed the station.

I instead stopped at Wal-mart for a breakfast sandwich, but this was no ordinary Wal-mart. It was staffed by ladies that thought they were working at Hallmark. The condition of the structure itself was pristine and everyone had a way about them that suggested, “I retired, but felt like having a part time job, just because I love it.”

This wasn’t a French radio station or insect venom induced hallucination. I will sooner forget that Houston, British Columbia has the world’s biggest fly-rod before I forget how awesome the Wal-mart was in Terrace, B.C.

While on the quick topic of brilliance, the $1 (Loonies) and $2 coins that Canada uses are fantastic.

Anyway, I boarded the Alaska Marine Highway ferry after killing five hours around Prince Rupert, mostly at Tim Horton’s, a Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts hybrid. I met a friendly lady that posted up next to my table and talked at me for a good 15 minutes about how happy she was that her son’s wife was starting to learn how to cook. We spoke a bit about teaching and the impact of educators and adults in general.

When she left it was rather abrupt, but she did return five minutes later to hand me a sheet of paper with the email of a girl that lived south and was “my age.”

The paper also included the email of a guy that gives boat tours of a grizzly bear preserve and another that smokes the best salmon she has ever had.

That was my cue. Canada was great, and the people friendly, but it was officially time for Alaska.

Unfortunately the ferry that departed Prince Rupert arrived in Ketchikan at 2:45 am leaving me with 13 hours before the next boat ride could take me to Prince of Wales Island.

I drove off the ship just before 3 a.m.

The deep purple mountains were already being lined in a lighter shade of blue indicating earth was waking up, as I warily sped toward Ward Lake for the first time since my high school cross country team ran there so many words ago. There were no fees for the day use pullouts, so since the sun was on its way I felt reasonably justified in using one of those pads for a nap.

After a couple hours I could no longer feel my feet so I went for a little walk before I drove downtown to buy my $145 non-resident Alaska fishing license.

I ended up lingering downtown watching tourists scurry about and locals plead for common sense, then waded into the warm Ward Lake water for my first casts in home water. The trout bit my fly to death, and I added another layer of sweat to my already impressive camping funk which I shared with the fellow patrons at Annabelle’s Keg and Chowderhouse. I didn’t care; I was eating the smoked salmon chowder, which is reason enough to visit Alaska.

It kept me full over the next three hours downtown and the three hour boat ride to Prince of Wales Island, and the 45 minute drive home. One would think I was eager to sleep once I got home.

No, I had a snack then went fishing.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail